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Governors Spotlight: Animal Protection Measures, Teachers Assessments, Unemployment Fraud & More

October 03, 2022 (3 min read)

CA Gov Signs Suite of Animal Protection Measures

Among the hundreds of bills California Gov. Gavin Newsom addressed in the closing days of September (See SNCJ Spotlight in this issue) were a half dozen measures aimed at protecting animals, including a bill that bans toxicity testing on dogs and cats for pesticides, chemical substances and other products.

That bill (SB 879) exempts tests related to products intended for use in dogs or cats, including medical treatments.

Newsom also endorsed AB 1648, which required kennel owners to create a natural disaster evacuation plan as one of the conditions for obtaining a kennel license or permit, and AB 2380, which bars online pet retailers from offering, brokering, making a referral for, or otherwise facilitating a loan or other financing option for the adoption or sale of a dog, cat, or rabbit. (CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR’S OFFICE)

 MA Gov Likely to Veto Happy Hour Return

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) said he will “most likely” veto a tenet in a pending economic development bill that would allow Bay State bars and restaurants to again offer discounted drink promotions.

While a staple of alcohol sales in most states, Massachusetts lawmakers barred cheaper so-called “happy hour” drink promotions in 1984 after a string of fatal drunk driving accidents.

Supporters of a bill that has been lodged in the House since July contend that the growth in rideshare services like Uber and Lyft greatly lessens the chance that bar patrons will climb behind the wheel of a car. But Baker is not convinced.

“The simple truth of the matter is people got overserved a lot in the old days, and I believe people will continue to get overserved,” Baker said during a recent radio appearance. “There are consequences associated with that, and the consequences in many cases I don’t think justify or are worth the benefit that’s associated with, you know, 25-cent drinks.”

He is joined in his opposition by the Massachusetts Restaurant Association.

“There has not been outcry from industry to change these laws,” MSA President and CEO Stephen told State House News Service back in July. “Who is asking for this change and for what reason? Just because a consumer expresses a desire to have something doesn’t mean it makes sense for the impacted business or the Commonwealth as a whole.” (CBS, MASSLIVE.COM, BOSTON HERALD)

NJ Gov Replaces Teacher Assessment Test

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) issued a conditional veto to SB 896, a bill that would shift the burden of certifying teachers from the state to the colleges and universities that train them. There has been a growing call from education groups to eliminate the state Teacher Performance Assessment exam, which they claim has helped exacerbate the state’s teacher shortage. The new policy does away with that test, but starting in spring of 2024 requires the schools to come up with their own exam to replace it. (NORTHJERSEY.COM)

NY Gov Says State Will Go After Unemployment Fraud

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) said the state will seek repayment of $11 million in fraudulent unemployment claims paid out to Empire State residents in August. This is in addition to the $114 million the state has already demanded be returned from ineligible recipients who obtained benefits during the last two-and-a-half years of the pandemic.

Hochul said the state will offer various repayment plans, and will refer those who refuse to comply to law enforcement.

The announcement came on the heels of a September report from the office of the inspector general of the U.S. Labor Department that more than tripled the previous estimate of such fraud related to federal pandemic emergency unemployment relief payments. The earlier report estimated that around $16 billion had been eaten up by double payments, payments made to dead people, or payments made to prisoners or other ineligible persons. The new report now places that figure at $45.6 billion. (ALBANY TIMES-UNION, NEW YORK TIMES)

OK Lawmakers Reject Gov’s Call to End Grocery Taxes

The Oklahoma Senate rejected Gov. Kevin Stitt’s (R) call to eliminate the Sooner State’s tax on groceries. Stitt cited the state’s $2.8 billion budget surplus as ample reason to eliminate the tax, but the GOP-dominated Senate disagreed.

“As we enter a recession, we must remember just a few short years ago we were scrambling with a $1.3 billion shortfall,” Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat (R) said in a statement. “We must be mindful and do tax cuts the right way.” (OKLAHOMAN [OKLAHOMA CITY])

 --Compiled by RICH EHISEN


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